Many children can feel intimidated when arriving in secondary school for the first time. Librarian Anne De'Ath tells us about an initiative she ran to help that transition through the school library.
Whilst a School Librarian at Eastwood High School (East Renfrewshire) I was involved with the local feeder primaries. I visited their pupils to talk about various things including “The Summer Reading Challenge” (an Initiative to develop Literacy by using Libraries).
This experience gave me the confidence to develop links further with the nearest primary, Crookfur. After speaking to their Depute Head Teacher, Ms Gillian Graham we decided to set up a series of visits for Primary 6 & 7 pupils. This allowed pupils to visit the Library at Eastwood and undertake some basic Library Skills lessons. Thus I got to know these pupils and could encourage their reading, as they borrowed books from Eastwood. I also felt I could help these pupils cope with the transition when moving from primary to secondary education.
To further build on this we decided to run a joint literacy festival. The aims of this were to:
raise standards in writing, creativity and motivation
increase motivation in reading for pleasure
increase attainment in literacy across the curriculum
build links between the 2 schools via pupils and staff
During the festival we mixed the classes, so primary and secondary, such as P7 and S1, for example, would work together. The pupils would be put in groups of twenty and have three, one hour-long workshop in which they:
met an author, who would share their ideas for writing (characters, setting, plot)
met a storyteller, who would give a performance workshop
a teacher would give a lesson focusing on the Moving Image and explaining how camera, colour and sound to develop atmosphere and character
Gillian applied to the Scottish Book Trust to partially fund the sessions from authors and storytellers. We also both submitted bids within our schools to meet the financial shortfall.
My job also involved organising the specific workshops running at Eastwood. This meant:
writing to authors and arranging a date and time for the event
writing to pupils’ parents notifying them of the event
consulting with all the teachers involved so they knew exactly what part they had to play on the day
organising rooms for the event, along with any specific IT or drawing/writing materials
organising for pupils (junior prefects) to take the groups round between each workshop and again notifying their teachers and parents about this. I had to speak to the prefects and give them notes so they knew exactly what to do (especially if a pupil was ill etc). One year we had over 100 pupils involved and so the Festival had to run to a strict timetable
coordinating an area where all the pupils could go to have a break (this involved accessing food and drink). I had to organise catering for the pupils so their nutritional requirements were met
offering the authors an area where they could get a break at any time during the event. I also organised refreshments for them and explained how they could access IT etc
took photos during the festival and wrote up the event from the Eastwood perspective. This then went onto the school’s twitter feed, into the Head Teacher’s monthly newspaper and the local media.
all pupil’s attending the workshops had to do a follow up activity. I helped to organised these during and after the event. To try and ensure a successful event I spoke to all parties about our aims. Indeed all staff, authors and pupils received written information about this before, during and after the event.
My yearly departmental development plan included references to the Joint Reading Festival. It was followed up by a yearly audit, which allowed me to appraise the festival in an official capacity. Both the plan and the audit were read by my Line Manager (Head Teacher).
I also produced specific evaluation forms. These went to all those directly involved in the festival (staff, authors and pupils). The event produced positive publicity for the 2 schools. This was noted in a local newspaper, social media and HT monthly newsletter. I know from conversations with all the staff involved that they found the developed links between the 2 schools helpful.
Anne De'Ath, School Librarian